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Karl Liew, son of ex-Changi Airport Group chairman, gets 2 weeks’ jail for lying to judge in Parti Liyani case

SINGAPORE — Karl Liew Kai Lung, the son of ex-Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong, was sentenced to two weeks' jail on Friday (April 14) for lying to a judge in a case over the family's maid, Parti Liyani — even though the prosecution was seeking only a fine.

Karl Liew (centre) at the State Courts on April 14, 2023. The 45-year-old pleaded guilty to lying to the judge.

Karl Liew (centre) at the State Courts on April 14, 2023. The 45-year-old pleaded guilty to lying to the judge.

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  • Karl Liew Kai Lung, 45, son of ex-Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong, was sentenced to two weeks’ jail on Friday (April 14) for lying to a judge
  • On March 30, he pleaded guilty to lying to District Judge Olivia Low that his father’s former maid, Parti Liyani, had stolen his clothes
  • The prosecution sought a fine for his actions
  • District Judge Eugene Teo however said he could not mete out a fine only
  • He said that Liew's actions were "innately serious" and ought to be met with the "clearest degree of condemnation"

SINGAPORE — Karl Liew Kai Lung, the son of ex-Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong, was sentenced to two weeks' jail on Friday (April 14) for lying to a judge in a case over the family's maid, Parti Liyani — even though the prosecution had sought only a fine.

Liew lied when he told District Judge Olivia Low during an earlier trial that Ms Parti had stolen his clothes when the clothes were not his.

In passing sentence on Friday, District Judge Eugene Teo described Liew's actions as a "brazen fraud", which cannot be tolerated by the court.

He also granted a request by Liew, 45, to have the start of his jail term deferred until May 8.

His defence counsel had stated that Liew had five children and he had the main responsibility of looking after them at home.

Last month, Liew pleaded guilty to one count of giving false information to a public servant, knowing it would likely cause the public servant to use lawful power to the injury of another person.

A second charge of giving false information to the police about finding 119 pieces of clothing belonging to him in boxes packed by Ms Parti was taken into consideration.

Ms Parti, 49, started working as a foreign domestic worker for the Liew household, which comprised Mr Liew Mun Leong, his wife Ng Lai Peng, their daughter Liew Cheng May, Karl Liew and his wife Heather Lim, in March 2007.

On Oct 28, 2016, the Liew family decided to terminate Ms Parti’s employment when they suspected that she was stealing from them. 

As she was given two hours to pack her belongings and leave, Ms Parti had asked Karl Liew for big boxes to send her belongings back to Indonesia. While packing, she threatened to lodge a complaint with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) about being asked to clean Karl Liew’s home and office. 

She was interrupted by the employment agency, which asked her to leave before she could seal two of the boxes. They were sealed by two drivers who worked for the family.

The family checked the contents of the boxes on Oct 29, 2016, and found items that allegedly belonged to the family.

Mr Liew Mun Leong and Karl Liew filed a police report against Ms Parti on Oct 30, 2016.

On Dec 2, 2016, she was arrested upon her arrival at Changi Airport in Singapore to seek employment.

In August 2017, Ms Parti was charged with five offences of stealing from the Liew family.

She was tried in court between April 2018 and March 2019, and was convicted of four charges of stealing more than S$30,000 worth of items from the Liew family in March 2019. 

She was sentenced to two years and two months’ jail.

However, the convictions were overturned in the High Court by Justice Chan Seng Onn on Sept 4, 2020.

Ms Parti was acquitted on all four theft charges, nearly four years after she was fired by her former employer.

LIED THAT BLOUSES WERE HIS AND STOLEN FROM HIM

One of the charges against Ms Parti alleged that she had stolen various items with a total value of S$46,856. 

These items included 120 pieces of clothing, including a cream polo T-shirt and a red blouse, which were valued at S$150 each. 

Karl Liew was called as a witness at Ms Parti’s trial and was cross-examined by her counsel in three different court sessions in 2018.

In one of the sessions, on July 17, 2018, he testified during cross-examination that the cream polo T-shirt and the red blouse belonged to him, even though he knew that this was false.

Lawyer Anil Balchandani, who represented Ms Parti, had asked him whether the two items belonged to him and he said yes.

Mr Anil then asked whether he remembered when he got the T-shirt and the blouse and when he wore them, to which he said that he did not. 

The defence counsel then suggested that the reason he could not remember was because he never owned them or wore them, and Liew disagreed with that. 

Mr Anil suggested that both items were women's wear, to which Liew agreed. 

When asked whether the cream polo T-shirt was too small, even if he was cutting body mass while working out, Liew said yes. 

WHY THE PROSECUTION SOUGHT A FINE

Before Friday's sentencing, Deputy Public Prosecutors (DPPs) Kelvin Chong and Etsuko Lim had sought a maximum fine of S$5,000 for Liew.

In their submissions, they said that no actual harm was caused by Karl Liew's lie because the false testimony did not result in a wrongful conviction of Ms Parti. 

They added that in terms of the potential harm to Ms Parti being convicted of theft of the two pieces of clothing, the two items would likely not have made a significant difference to the sentence to be imposed for the charge, since the total value of the items set out in the amended charge was S$30,606, whereas the cream polo T-shirt and the red blouse were valued at S$150 each.

DPP Chong added that there was "no evidence of malice or premeditation, and the accused did not take any active or sophisticated steps to bolster his lies in court". 

Lastly, the prosecution said it took into consideration that Liew suffers from Parkinson’s disease, which will "affect the impact that a custodial sentence will have on him".

JUDGE'S REASONS FOR A JAIL SENTENCE

In his oral statement, District Judge Teo said that he could not mete out a fine only and had decided on an imprisonment term instead. 

“In its most concise form, this case is about a person who knowingly furnished a false statement to the police that someone has committed an offence, and who subsequently went to court to also furnish false testimony under oath to the judge to get that person convicted of that offence,” he said. 

He added that while a wrongful conviction did not ultimately result, it does not change the fact that Liew's actions were "innately serious" and ought to be met with the "clearest degree of condemnation".

“The result here must leave no one with any doubt about our tolerance for such brazen fraud in the face of the court, and upon the court. In my judgement, nothing less than an imprisonment sentence is due for such cases.”

He also said that prosecution’s point that “no actual harm was caused because the false testimony did not result in a wrongful conviction” — a point also adopted by Liew's defence counsel in its mitigation plea — was an “unjustifiably narrow and blinkered approach” in considering the actual harm caused. 

This approach did not account for the fact that Liew’s lie resulted in the police and the prosecution being misled and Ms Parti being investigated on those items.

It also resulted in a criminal charge against Ms Parti, even if the alleged theft of the two items of clothings were only a small part of the charge.

In addition, the lie resulted in time and effort “being expended by all parties at the trial” to review the truthfulness of Karl Liew’s false evidence, and the submissions later prepared and submitted to the court regarding the false evidence.

Lastly, the judge said that the lie had resulted in District Judge Low having “to review that false evidence independently” from all the submissions that were submitted before.

While District Judge Teo acknowledged the doctor's diagnosis of Liew's condition, he said that the Singapore Prisons Service had confirmed that it can accommodate Liew's medical needs.

“Lenient penalties for such conduct sends all the wrong signals about our tolerance for such behaviour," the judge said. 

"So, if it is appropriate to apply the rules in that manner to others, then it must be applied in the same manner to Mr Karl Liew as well, because our adherence to the Rule of Law means that none stand above it, and that it applies the same to everyone."

Anyone convicted of lying to a public servant under Section 182 of the Penal Code can be jailed up to one year or fined up to S$5,000, or both.

Related topics

court Parti Liyani Karl Liew

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